by Laurie-Ann Copple
Tony and I have had stretching times with Avian Park children and teens during the past month or two – especially when we’re the only adults. During August, we had YWAM short-termer Daniel Mendes come help from YWAM Worcester. While he didn’t know Afrikaans and he’s still learning English, he reached out and connected with kids’ hearts – through singing, playing the violin and just being there. We also had one week with the Iris Harvest School 28 outreach team, who were with us for the Holy Spirit ministry day. We do have the teen helpers, but they don’t help with content, they help with crowd control and serving sandwiches and drinks. Even individual boys like to help, including setting up chairs and other infrastructure.
Recently, Tony has started to give these kids the Alpha talks personally, although without visual aids. Prior to this, we were using the Youth Alpha videos, which are good for teens, but these kids preferred personal interaction with Tony, as they also love it when I touch them. We’re learning their love language, even if they are still loud and easily distracted. So while Tony isn’t using visual aids (which I believe we need, he instead uses questions, and keeps the talks short. Last week, he presented How does God guide us very simply, and the kids seemed to catch on in questions. That day, when we sang, I was nudged to look into the children’s faces when we were singing. Often they watch us very closely but I usually look at Tony’s music, or close my eyes. Now I look at the children and smile. I work at connecting, physically touching them and encouraging them in shaking the shakers or drumming with me in good rhythm. The older kids also help me in moving things around, including my chair or drum bag. They naturally want to help.
I have begun touching these kids with a hug, kiss on the cheek, high five, or gently tucking in stray t-shirt tags. I do the same with the teens, but appropriately with hugs, kisses on the cheek and shared work in preparing food for the leadership training on Saturdays. The younger girls have now begun playing with my hair – which I don’t mind, unless it’s freshly washed (hey, don’t mess with my curls!). This week, one of my shakers was damaged - the apple shaker, which is very popular with all the kids clubs, as well as our prison inmates. However, four of the kids heard my pleas for help and they discovered that there was a missing stopper in the bottom of the apple shaker! One of the kids had pulled it out in a struggle with a second child. The stopper was found, as were little bits that were in the apple. Now all is good percussion-wise, although I’ve asked Tony to look into some more shakers at the local music store.
Meanwhile earlier during the day the shaker was damaged, I still wasn’t feeling that well but knew I had to come to kid’s club. I couldn't leave Tony on his own. I mentioned that perhaps the children could pray for me, since Holy Spirit can really work through children. It’s an Iris thing to get children involved in prayers for healing and other things. Their faith is much simpler and they have less doubts. So Tony decided to teach on healing, and use me as a prayer object.
Yesterday, I received a very special word of knowledge from another church member at Worcester Christian Church. The man who blessed me is named Johan. He ministers deeply from the Father Heart of God, and he always greets the non-Afrikaans speaking people on "translation row" with a smile, hug and encouragement. So later Johan approached me and told me something special right from the heart of the Father. He told me that God has heard my quiet, private cries to him in the night. These were prayers that not even Tony knew about. I was begging God for a change, for healing, for energy and even more inspiration. I told God that I just couldn’t continue on this way, endlessly working, and getting sick very often. This wasn’t just about my weight issues, my knees, or about an immunity issue I have with colds and flu. It was about all of it.
So Johan said that God was so concerned about my prayers that he was saying “shhh” to everyone in heaven so he could hear my quiet cries. I matter that much to him. The worship was temporarily put on hold. Then Johan said that there is about to be a very big change in my life and that God has not forgotten me. I’ve been promised healing before – and I know that it will happen here in South Africa. I just didn’t know the timing. Anyway, after Tony shared about healing and that God answers many children’s prayers, he had me share Johan’s word of knowledge with the children. I told them that just like Johan told me that God said “shhh” in heaven, so that he could hear me, he would do the same for their own deep heartfelt prayers to God.
I told them that I knew that God would hear their prayers. I did not share of another time when children prayed for me, which was back in 1991, in a Vineyard Family Camp. I still remember seeing in the Spirit when a girl named September Proctor had prayed over my thyroid and it was like she was saying in her prayers, “Don’t be dead, come back to life, right now, in Jesus.” Since we had 77 kids today, Tony decided that we wouldn’t have them all come up and lay hands on me, but instead he would. He would lead prayer and they would pray and stretch out their hands in prayer towards me. I’m not sure how many of these kids understood, but we both made it very clear that God can work through children just as well as he does through grown-ups (often even better). So they prayed. I continue to contend for the healing, although I do feel stronger. May this continue in Jesus’ name. Then I will give all the kids a high-five and a hug, like I did with the kids who helped me fix my apple shaker. We’re thankful that through the ups and downs with this particular club, we are deepening our relationship with these kids. We are thankful. We are finding that as we reach out and touch them, and are real, they reach back and respond.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
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Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple are Canadian missionaries and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
48 Hooggelegen, Langerug, Worcester 6850 Western Cape, South Africa
Johan and Marie Fourie, Iris Western Cape Base, PO Box 765, Robertson 6705 Western Cape, South Africa